Come together, play, be active: Physical activity engagement of school-age children at Play Streets in four diverse rural communities in the US

Abstract

Across the U.S., Play Streets — temporary street closures creating safe places for play for a few hours— are being implemented in urban areas during summer. Play Streets have never been implemented or evaluated in rural communities, but have the potential to address challenges residents face accessing safe physical activity opportunities in these areas. Community organizations in four diverse low-income rural communities (selected to represent African American, American Indian, Latino, or White, non-Hispanic populations) received mini-grants in 2017 to implement four, three-hour Play Streets during the summer focusing on school-aged children in elementary-to-middle school. Physical activity was measured using Digi-walker (Yamax-SW200) pedometers and the System for Observing Play and Recreation in Communities (SOPARC/iSOPARC). Sixteen Play Streets were implemented in rural Maryland, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Texas communities during June–September 2017. A total of 370 children (mean age=8.81 years [SD=2.75]; 55.0% female) wore pedometers across all 16 Play Streets (μ=23.13 [SD=8.59] children/Play Street). School-aged children with complete data (n=353) wore pedometers for an average of 92.97 minutes (SD=60.12) and accrued a mean of 42.08 steps/minute (SD=17.27), with no significant differences between boys (μ=43.82, SD=15.76) and girls (μ=40.66, SD=18.34). iSOPARC observations revealed no significant differences in child activity by sex; however, male teens were more active than female teens. Most adults were sedentary during Play Streets according to pedometer and iSOPARC data. Children in diverse rural communities are physically active at Play Streets. Play Streets are a promising intervention for promoting active play among children that lack safe opportunities to be active.

Publication
Preventive Medicine
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